The Daily Parker

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Categorically unqualified but still the master persuader

Scott Adams and James Fallows have some overlapping thoughts on Donald Trump after the GOP debate last night.

First Adams, who has a pretty good outline of how to detect a lack of thinking about the election:

1. If you are comparing Plan A to Plan B, you might be doing a good job of thinking. But if you are comparing Plan A to an imaginary situation in which there are no tradeoffs in life, you are not thinking.

2. If you see quotes taken out of context, and you form an opinion anyway, that’s probably not thinking. If you believe you need no further context because there is only one imaginable explanation for the meaning of the quotes, you might have a poor imagination. Sometimes a poor imagination feels a lot like knowledge, but it’s closer to the opposite.

He posits another six tests before summarizing his hypothesis about why Trump is doing so well.

Fallows believes Trump "fundamentally disqualif[ied]" to be president, of course, but he was more concerned that CNN deliberately fed into the fears the GOP are trying to whip up:

[T]he GOP’s overall goal was to replicate the tone on Fox News, and vice versa, which in both cases is essentially: risk, risk, risk; fear, fear, fear; ISIS, ISIS, ISIS; alien, alien, alien. All of this is toward the end of demonstrating Obama’s weakness and failure. Unfortunately, it is also at direct odds with U.S. strategic interests. A resilient nation seeks to minimize the effects of such terrorist attacks that, in a society that retains any liberties, still lamentably occur. A nation that wants to magnify the effects of terrorism yells “The attackers are everywhere!” “We’re all going to die!!!” Because they consider it useful against the “feckless” Obama, the latter has been the 2016 GOP approach (as Jeet Heer wrote on Tuesday night). It could box them into strategically foolish policies if they took office.

Ramp-up-the-fear was also the result of CNN’s approach tonight. Much more than half of the show was about ISIS / ISIL, Syria, and refugees. Here’s a promise: whoever becomes the next president will and should spend much less than half of his or her time on ISIS and Syria. The presidential topics that are not directly about ISIS—China, Russia, Mexico, the economic and political tensions in Europe, the entirety of Latin America and Africa, Iran, India, Pakistan, Japan, the South China Sea—any one of these, on its own, has a chance to occupy more of the next president’s time and attention than ISIS. Together they very certainly will. Not to mention: trade deals, the economy, job creation, budgets and deficits, medical care, and a thousand other issues.

But ISIS-centrism, which at the moment is shorthand for fear, is the way Wolf Blitzer set up the meat of the debate.

CNN ceased being relevant years ago, which is sad, because for a decade or longer they were the most relevant network.

We're not well-served by most of the big networks anymore. (NPR is a notable exception, but they have perhaps two million listeners out of 70 million eligible voters.) On the one hand, saying people disagree with you because they have lousy data is an adolescent mindset most of the time; but on the other hand, in some cases, like those whose only information about the Republican party came from CNN last night, it may be true.

I'm not looking forward to the 2016 election.

Reading list

Stuff to read (or watch):

Back to the mines.

Is Ben Carson running a scam?

TPM's Josh Marshall isn't saying so exactly, but there does seem to be something off about the good doctor's campaign:

Hucksters and cheats can be found everywhere. But particularly on the right there is a significant layer of people in the business of fleecing outraged and/or low-information conservatives of their money. Some of it you see with those advertisements for buying gold on Fox News. ... But the big thing on the right are various fundraising groups that exist largely to fundraise. So for instance, you'll have Americans Against RINOs which sends out a ton of direct mail, raises lots of money from conservatives who've just had it up to here with RINOs like Boehner and McCain and McConnell selling the country out to Obama. But instead of that money going to fight the RINOs, most of the money goes back into raising more money.

So where's the money going? Well, the direct mail business is very lucrative. And usually you'll find that Americans Against RINOs has a tight relationship with AAR Direct Mail Inc which is making a pretty penny servicing Americans Against RINOs. You get the idea. Obviously there are crooked charities that run this way. But it's a prevalent model on the right.

Do I think Carson's going to grab all the money and run off to Venezuela if he gets the nomination? No. I'm sure he's pretty into this right now. But "Ben Carson" clearly comes out of this world. And his operation still seems mired in it.

So, Marshall is saying, essentially, Ben Carson is the modern version of "Springtime for Hitler." It would be funny if it weren't so scary.

Canada shifts left

Last night, Canada tossed out its anti-climate, pro-business-owner Conservative party and elected the Liberals in a landslide. The Liberal party won an outright majority of 184 seats to the Conservatives' 99 (out of 338). Stephen Harper is stepping down, which Canada's system requires in order for Justin Trudeau to be elected Prime Minister by the next Parliament, which should resume November 9th.

The left-leaning Toronto Star is overjoyed:

Cheers broke out across the land as Canadian voters chased Stephen Harper’s arrogant Conservatives from office on Monday night, in a richly deserved rebuke after years of corrosive misgovernance.

Thus ends a dismal, divisive era in our political history.

Trudeau’s compelling vision of a Canada that is “open and confident and hopeful” caught the spirit of voters who believe this country can be more generous, more ambitious and more successful. Millions were repelled by Conservative efforts to scare people into voting for the status quo. And Trudeau’s call to “come together as a country” proved to be a stronger motivator than the Tories’ divisive tactics.

The largest newspaper chain in Canada, Postmedia, naturally endorsed Harper, and has had little to say about the election results. Most papers in the chain have published a glowing review of his administration that leaves out the bits about Rob Ford and climate-change denialism. (Harper is, after all, from Calgary.)

Of note, too, is the New Republic's view from before the election that U.S. Republicans should take note of their Canadian counterparts' mishandling of immigration:

[T]he Harper government has endangered its success in minority outreach by openly running a xenophobic campaign, making a special effort to stir up anxiety about Muslim immigrants. Along with the separatist Bloc Quebecois, the CPC has made an issue of the niqab, the face-covering clothing worn by some Muslim women. Going against court rulings on religious freedom, Harper has insisted that women take off the niqab during citizenship oaths. His party has also floated the idea that the niqab not be allowed in the civil service. On the issue of Syrian refugees, Harper has played up fears that some might be terrorists and used his powers as PM to admit Christian refugees while blocking Muslim ones. Finally, Harper promised to create a “barbaric cultural practices hotline” where Canadians could inform on neighbors adhering to supposedly uncivilized cultural traditions.

In truth, both Harper and Ford show the limits of conservative outreach to immigrant groups and people of color. While it’s true that the two politicians have been more successful in minority outreach than the Republican Party has been, this outreach has been built on fostering other lines of social division, whether against Muslim-Canadians or LGBT communities. Getting some immigrants and non-whites to vote for you by choosing a new scapegoat hardly seems like a promising basis for politics.

The longer term danger for the CPC is that the Canadian-born children of immigrants tend to be much less socially conservative, which means the basis for the outreach could have a one-generation shelf-life. In fact, the success of this Islamophobia-plus-homophobia strategy might even expire on Monday....

Yes, it might.

Congratulations to the Liberal Party, and to Justin Trudeau.